Phnom Penh, at the confluence of the Mekongand the Tonle Sap Rivers, is the capital of Cambodia and its largest city.
Once known as the "Pearl of Asia", it wasconsidered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s.
Phnom Penh,along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are significant global and domestic tourist destinationsfor Cambodia.
Founded in 1434, the city is noted for its beautiful and historical architectureand attractions.
There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings scattered alongthe grand boulevards.
The oldest structure is the Wat Phnom fromthe founding days of the city, constructed in 1373.
The main tourist attractions arethe Royal Palace with the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, constructed during the Frenchcolonial era in the late 19th century in the classical Khmer style hosts a vast collectionof Khmer antiquities; the Independence Monument, although modern from the 1950s, is also constructedin the ancient Khmer style.
The French, who were the colonial mastersfrom the 19th century to the 1940s, also left their mark, with various colonial villas,French churches and boulevards.
A notable landmark of the colonial era is the HotelLe Royal.
Despite being liberated from the Khmer Rougeby the Vietnamese in 1979, Phnom Penh has long remained a bit rough.
Things are improving,though roads remain shabby, traffic chaotic, and electricity strained.
The most pleasant strolling is to be donealong the park-like river front, which hosts cafés and restaurants aplenty.
Standard touristsights are few, which makes the city a place to relax, watch the street life and absorbthe local colour.
Phnom Penh is a worthwhile destination for those who enjoy an "edgy"experience and can brave the downsides of reckless driving, noise, dust, and perennialtheft.
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